Avoid Booking at These Peak Hours in India's Major Airports

In the past week, India experienced 19,940 domestic departures, slightly below the approved 23,732 departures. Cirium, an aviation analytics company, provided exclusive data for this analysis, revealing that Indian carriers are planning 21,081 departures in the first week of February. A range of cancellations, stemming from operational, commercial, and weather-related factors, has contributed to the variance between planned and actual flights.

Also Read: Passenger describes his first Akasa Air flight with Pet Dog as 'Horrible' - Airline Responds

Time Patterns in Indian Flight Departures

Contrary to popular belief many assume that the busiest time at Indian airports is between 0600 and 0700 hours; however, data suggests otherwise. The peak period for departures is between 1500 and 1600 hours, with 1,274 departures weekly. In contrast, the least busy time is between 0300 and 0400 hours, witnessing only 70 weekly departures.

Time Bands with Maximum Flights

  • The highest number of flights occurs between 1500 and 1600 hours.

  • Subsequently, the time band of 0800 to 0900 hours follows closely with 1,265 weekly flights.

  • Mid-day, between 1200 and 1300 hours, sees 1,264 weekly flights.

  • Notably, the 0600 to 0700 hours time band ranks twelfth with 1,104 weekly departures, closely followed by 0700 to 0800 hours with 1,065 weekly departures.

  • Evening hours are densest between 1800 and 1900 hours, registering 1,151 weekly departures.

Family at the Airport

Flight Distribution at Top Airports

  • Delhi Airport: Delhi, hosting 3,273 weekly domestic departures, sees its busiest hour from 0800 to 0900, with 194 weekly departures. The 0700 to 0800 hour closely follows with 190 weekly departures. The 1100 to 1200 hour signifies important connections originating from the morning bank of flights. Surprisingly, there are no scheduled domestic flights between 0100 to 0200 hours.

  • Mumbai Airport: Mumbai, the second busiest airport, experiences its peak hour from 0600 to 0700, with 172 weekly domestic flights. Conversely, the least number of flights occurs between 0300 and 0400 hours, with only 7 weekly departures.

  • Bengaluru Airport: Bengaluru, the third busiest airport, mirrors Mumbai's peak hour, with 170 weekly domestic departures between 0600 and 0700. Similarly, the least busy time is between 0300 and 0400 hours, with only seven weekly flights.

  • Hyderabad and Chennai: Hyderabad's peak hour is between 0600 and 0700, with 121 weekly departures, while Chennai has a tie between 0600-0700 and 1100-1200 hours, each with 70 weekly domestic departures.

  • Kolkata: Kolkata's peak is between 0800 and 0900, registering 80 weekly domestic departures. No domestic flights operate between 2300-0100 hours and 0300-0400 hours.

India's Metro-Driven Aviation Market

Despite constraints in runway capacity, the top 10 airports contribute to 64% of all departures, emphasizing the metro-centric nature of the Indian aviation market. The analysis further highlights that only the top six airports, classified as metro airports, have more than 1,000 domestic departures per week.

Best Time to Book A Flight Ticket to Book Cheaper Flights

Instead of fixating on specific dates when searching for economical flights, it is advisable to identify what Keyes refers to as the "Goldilocks window" – a specific timeframe when affordable fares are more likely to be available for both domestic and international flights.

During off-peak seasons, which exclude the mid-summer, Christmas, or New Year's periods, it is recommended to book approximately one to three months in advance for domestic flights and two to eight months ahead for international travel, as this is when lower-cost options are more likely to be accessible. Conversely, if you are traveling during peak seasons, Keyes suggests making reservations three to seven months in advance for domestic flights and four to 10 months for international flights. Although there is no guarantee of securing the best deal, the likelihood of doing so is higher during these suggested timeframes.

For those unable to plan months in advance but still aiming for the most economical choices, it is advisable to book as early as possible. Keyes recommends booking tickets at least 21 days before departure, as airlines often implement policies that significantly increase airfare prices for trips scheduled beyond that deadline.

While specific days may not impact airfare costs, the timing of your flight can influence ticket prices. Generally, Mondays and Fridays tend to be more expensive, with Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays offering more budget-friendly options. Keyes attributes this to the tendency of business travelers to avoid mid-week journeys.

Early morning flights are another option to consider, as they are less popular due to people's preference for later wake-up times. Additionally, early flights have a higher on-time arrival rate, known as the completion factor, which is approximately 25 percentage points higher than afternoon or evening flights. This is because the aircraft for the first flight of the day is typically parked at the airport overnight, while other planes are arriving from different locations later in the day.

Also Read: India emerges as 5th largest source of tourists for US

Red-Eye Flights in India

Only 18 airports offer domestic departures between 0000 and 0500 hours, with Delhi, Mumbai, and Pune leading in this category. Surprisingly, the popular holiday destination, Goa, operates 21 weekly domestic departures in the midnight to 0500 hours timeframe. However, these red-eye flights constitute a minimal percentage of the total planned domestic flights, with only 766 such departures nationwide.

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